Friday, December 18, 2009

Vote for YOUR choice!

The Human Spark Digital Photography Contest has closed and the judges have made their decisions. Now we need YOU to vote! Please take a look and choose your favorite.

The top choice will be awarded at the Red Carpet Premiere Party for THE HUMAN SPARK at Arizona Science Center on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm. Admission to Arizona Science Center is free for this event (ages 12 and up only please). For location and parking details click here.

We will announce the winners of "What's Your Spark Arizona" Digital Photography Contest. You will get to see the winning photographs in addition to the top ten from each category. Plus Jared Lipworth, Thirteen/WNET's Director of Science Programs will show clips from the series and offer a behind the scenes look at the show.

Please pre-register for The Human Spark Red Carpet Premiere Party. By pre-registering, you are eligible to be in a drawing for special items from Eight Educational Outreach including DVDs, complimentary passes to Arizona Science Center, and other gifts from Eight - Arizona PBS. To pre-register click here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How are you celebrating Inclusive Schools Week?

December 7 through December 12 marks the 8th annual National Inclusive Schools Week celebration. How are you celebrating?

Inclusive Schools Week is an annual event sponsored by the Inclusive Schools Network (ISN) at Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), which is held each year during the first week in December. Since its inception in 2001, Inclusive Schools Week has celebrated the progress that schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference and other factors. The Week also provides an important opportunity for educators, students and parents to discuss what else needs to be done in order to ensure that their schools continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children.

This issue is near and dear to my heart for several reasons:
  • My teaching background is in special education. I taught for 10 years as a high school special education inclusion teacher and proudly spearheaded work at the secondary level in team teaching and supporting regular education teachers who were willing to open their classrooms to all types of learners. As a new teacher I learned quickly that being able to work with any kind of student is a gift and a talent, not just a label related to certification. Many many teachers provide incredible inclusionary clasrooms without ever being asked. They are a blessing each and every day to their students!

  • I married a special education teacher. He has a wonderful sense of humor and never lets students quit on themselves. He sees parents for who they are and goes out of his way to communicate with them and help them help their student see their disability as an opportunity rather than any sort of roadblock. Plus he was a wonderful partner in 2 national special education grants we were able to bring to our school - thank you Beacons of Excellence and R.I.S.E.R.!

  • I am a parent of a son with a learning disability. A wonderful young man of 14, he was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia in 1st grade much to the chagrin of his teachers. His father, my husband, and I both advocated for his testing and placement despite the fact that the teachers said they NEVER place a 1st grader in special education for reading difficulties. I tried so hard to not be "one of those parents" but in the end - it was the best decision for him and for our family. He now is in a full inclusionary schedule as an 8th grader making honor roll grades. Yes, sometimes it IS important to place first graders in a program with an IEP!

So you can choose to celebrate quietly and just hug a student you struggle to teach or offer to stay after and tutor them, or better yet, help them to help themselves as they apply for colleges.

You can choose to do a little learning and develop disability awareness yourself. Have you seen the kinds of resources each of the following has to offer?

Or... consider celebrating in a big way. Find out what is happening with Inclusive Schools Week 2009 and get involved!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Science DOES Matter!

NSTA: SCIENCE MATTERS: A successful Saturday, December 5 event in downtown Phoenix! Thank you NSTA for inviting Eight Educational Outreach: ASSET to be a part of this incredible day. Over 600 parents, children, teachers, students, and just general science lovers gathered for a science pep-rally-of-sorts. Bill Nye the Science Guy shared his thoughts, along with NSTA Executive Director, Francis Eberle, and Eight General Manager, Kelly McCullough.

Ruff Ruffman from FETCH!
and Sid the Science Kid greeted children of all ages. Hands on activities were available for all to take their hand at science experimentation. Pop Fly was a huge hit from WGBH Design Squad. Thank you so much to Boeing Employees of Arizona for their help with Sid the Science Kid's Super Fab Lab and Eight volunteers for their help with showcasing high tech and low tech ways to explore wind with Curious George, Adaptive Curriculum Activity Objects, and Masters of Disaster! FETCH! volunteers helped us with a motion picture activity with low tech tools like rubber bands.

Colleagues from AzTEA showed digital microscopes and IDEAL highlighted the online course from Central Arizona Project. Club ASU and ASU's Ask a Biologist also found ways to engage scientists of all ages.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Very Busy Afternoon!

There is a LOT to do to get ready for Science Matters tomorrow! Are you coming?

Find out more and make plans to bring everyone with you!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Year End Home Stretch

Soaking up the last half of the holiday weekend, I found a gem in my email this a.m. that I thought would be worth forwarding to my husband who teaches high school. This is the time of year when it is dark out and you feel like staying under the covers instead of jumping out of bed and hitting the day with enthusiasm. It is cold in the morning and the kids grumble about being cold waiting for the bus (yes, they are true Phoenicians now) and yet don't want to be hassled with jackets because it will be "hot" on the playground later.

So... back to the gem... the little piece of encouragement that will help all of us make it through the next few weeks to winter break... 101 Ways to Cope with Teaching Stress, By Britney Wilkins. Ms. Wilkins has made an incredible collection of fun new web tools,time honored teaching skills, motivational thoughts, and physical activities to help teachers, and all of us who love teachers, make it to winter break in one piece!

Who can resist a list that includes tips like this?
  • Chocolate: Sneak a little piece of chocolate once or twice a day to give your brain a boost of endorphins and indulge your sweet side. Dark chocolate is supposedly the best.

  • Favorite tools: Your supplies drawer for the students can have a mish mash of pens, crayons, scissors and notecards, but save the best for yourself in your locked drawer. Even something as simple as getting to write cards with your favorite colorful pens can make you feel better.

  • Quotes to remember like: "It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. ": The next time someone makes you feel guilty for not earning as much money as them, remember this quote from Tom Brokaw.

  • online resources like...Toodledo: Toodledo sends reminders to your mobile phone so you never forget a task.

  • and...Kickboxing: This aggressive exercise is great for when you need to release a lot of stress and frustration.

I have only picked some random items from the list but I encourage you to peruse the entire 101. Find your favorites. Share them with your peers, your kids, and those you love. This holiday season is stressful for everyone. The more you can share what you do to de-stress will help the kids you love to see the positive ways to manage difficult stress.

Oh... and how did I find this gem anyway? I have to thank Brenda Power and Choice Literacy for her blog post that led me to this list. Who have you included in your Professional Learning Network that you may never meet but sends you thought provoking treasures? Find at least one or two and commit to skimming them at least once a week before deleting and you'll be amazed at what you find.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

After the Turkey...

Consider this when you finish your Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday:

Enjoy a conversation or two or three with some family members and capture it in celebration of the "National Day of Listening."

This is a wonderful way to capture the oral history of a loved one, a special event or memory, or celebrate family history! Designed as a monetary - free alternative to our nation's "Black Friday" spending sprees, "The National Day of Listening" was launched by Storycorps in partnership with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Explore their site for wonderful step by step interview suggestions and good ideas to capturing memories that can become holiday gifts.

The process is simple: select an interview partner, create a question list, and sit down to record a meaningful conversation. StoryCorps has created a free Do-It-Yourself (DIY) interview guide with step-by-step interview instructions, equipment recommendations, and sample questions available online at

Download the Do-It-Yourself Guide

Participants are encouraged to record their National Day of Listening interviews using equipment that is readily available in most homes—from cell phones to tape recorders to computers or even pen and paper. StoryCorps has created a free Do-It-Yourself interview guide with equipment recommendations and interview instructions available online at

About StoryCorps
StoryCorps is an independent non-profit whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening. StoryCorps is one of the largest archives of American voices ever created, with interviews gathered from more than 50,000 people in all 50 states. Each StoryCorps interview is recorded on a free CD for participants to take home and share, and is also archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


What happens when you combine LOTS of kids of all ages, the Arizona State Fair, PBS KIDS Electric Company, and Eight Educational Outreach: ASSET?

Take a look at the slide show and see! Beatboxing with Shock, coloring, races to make words and guess sounds and a LOT OF FUN!

Thank you PBS KIDS Raising Readers, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Shock for making this event a success in Arizona!

P.S.... Parents and educators have you SEEN these resources??? WOW!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Even WordWorld is Excited!

PBS KIDS Word World wishes you a Happy Halloween!

On October 30, PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! will offer a spooktacular array of Halloween-themed episodes where kids can join their favorite characters from CURIOUS GEORGE, SUPER WHY!, SID THE SCIENCE KID, DINOSAUR TRAIN, ARTHUR, CYBERCHASE, MAYA & MIGUEL and more as they celebrate Halloween with costume parties, trick-or-treating, and nighttime adventures while learning a few important friendship lessons such as sharing and teamwork along the way. A new episode from WORDGIRL will broaden kids’ vocabulary as WordGirl protects the holiday from Tobey and his Robots and helps save the day.
~ PBS Teachers

But the BEST news?

On, preschoolers and their parents can see what’s inside SID THE SCIENCE KID’s mystery lunchbox, play counting games with The Count from SESAME STREET, share favorite Halloween stories on Dot’s Story Factory, or view clips from favorite Halloween-themed episodes of CURIOUS GEORGE, SID THE SCIENCE KID, DINOSAUR TRAIN and more.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

NATURE Arizona!

The contest just closed. The judging is underway. Come enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

This weekend SHOCK is coming to the Arizona State Fair! The Electric Company Circuit Tour 2009 is making a stop in Phoenix on Saturday, October 17. Make plans to join us!

This event is FREE with your admission to the State Fair. It includes educational activities and audience participation. Local education technology director from Dysart Unified School District, Laurie King, will engage the crowd in all sorts of fun literacy activities after a special performance by Shock!

There is LOTS of thinking and curriculum packed into this activity disguised as FUN! Make plans for your PBS KIDS to join us! Consider subscribing to the YouTube Electric Company Channel too!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change

There are many things happening today with local PBS resources that contribute to motivating students, educators, and members of the community to take positive action with improving our planet. Many often think of ASSET in recent years as simply focused on early childhood. While early childhood is one of our core tenets, there is a whole host of other K-12 resources worth touting.

Have you explored resources from NATURE? ASSET has focused for the past several months on "Putting a Little More NATURE in Your Teaching."

Have you seen Eight's Sustainability collection of resources from Horizon and ASU? This is the place where scientists, educators, architects, farmers, policy makers, and business leaders discuss solutions for a sustainable planet.

Did you know that the 40th Season of Sesame Street will include Elmo teaching those youngest on the planet about nature and being green? "My World is Green and Growing" will be the new weekly feature this year.

What are you including in your teaching? Every facet of the curriculum in every subject area could incorporate real world examples involving climate change today. PBS Teachers creates Activity Packs to make it easier to embed extra resources on your classroom website:

What action are YOU taking in your teaching? I'd love to hear how YOU and YOUR STUDENTS are making positive strides toward Climate Change.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Make it a date! October 7, 2009 - 5 pm AZ time

PBS Teachers Webinar: Teaching about Place with Ken Burns's "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" PBS producers and curriculum experts

Curriculum Connections: Social Studies & Science

PBS Teachers and Classroom 2.0 are delighted to have education technology experts join us to present ideas for teaching with Ken Burns’s newest series, "The National Parks: America’s Best Idea." The film traces the birth of the national park idea in the mid-1800s and follows its evolution for nearly 150 years. Using archival photographs, first-person accounts of historical characters, personal memories and analysis from more than 40 interviews, and stunning cinematography, the series chronicles the steady addition of new parks through the stories of the people who helped create them and save them from destruction.

Resources from ABC-CLIO "History & The Headlines" will also be included in the presentation from curriculum experts.

So... is it on YOUR calendar yet?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Perspectives from an Early Childhood Educator

posted on behalf of Hope Dillon, Mesa Public Schools educator

I was lucky to receive a grant last year to pay for a laptop for my classroom. Although we always encourage family members to volunteer in the classroom, not many do or are able. However, someone always picks up and drops off the preschooler. This is an opportunity to present photographs and short videos of the students at work during the day. It provides a "window into the classroom" for those family members who aren't able to be in the classroom.

What I do is, every day before pick up, I upload the many pictures I've taken during the day. Then I set those to play as a slide show. I have hooked up the laptop to another monitor so that there are two places to see the slideshow. The sign in/out book is placed between the two monitors. As family members are picking up their children, they are able to see the photos of what their children have done during that day. Some families stay and watch the whole slideshow, others just watch it as they are waiting in line to sign in/out.

Every day of the week I add that day's photos to the slideshow so that on Friday, we have a slideshow from the whole week. Because there are so many photos, we start a new slideshow every week.

I post my lesson plans on the parent board, send newsletters home to families explaining what we are studying, but pictures really capture the interest of the families. It allows families to see what we are studying in class and the activities we do. I don't have to print all the pictures I take, like I tried to do in past years. Instead, the photos are still shared, but on the computer. This allows me to print only specific photos in documentation panels to highlight focused studies such as the different ways of interacting with playdough or structures we make with blocks.

The parents' response to the slideshow has been extremely positive. Now everyone wants to know how they can get the pictures. So, my next project, I'm afraid, is going to have to be a class website. I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Attention Arizonans age 8 to 108: Share a piece of your Arizona with us!

Submit an entry or several to Eight and Arizona Science Center's NATURE Arizona Digital Photography Contest through October 15, 2009.

The NATURE Arizona Digital Photography Contest 2009 is open to ALL photographers throughout Arizona who are at least 8 years of age, except employees of Eight, Arizona Public Television and Arizona Science Center, their immediate families and individuals living in the same household as such employees. Eight reserves the right to verify, in its sole judgment, winner eligibility.

Photographers must enter their images in one of the following divisions:
  • Pro - Full or part-time professional photographers who receive all or a major part of their income from photography.

  • Amateur - Beginning or amateur photographers at least 18 years of age, and experienced photographers who do not receive a major part of their income from photography.

  • Youth - Young photographers ages 8 to 17.

Find out more!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Honoring Sen. Edward Kennedy 1932-2009

This evening Eight will be airing a special encore performance of American Experience's The Kennedys. It is an incredible documentary honoring the contributions of a political dynasty. Additionally, there is a whole host of educator resources available to connect students with this legacy. You can also view much of the broadcast online.

On the current site homepage today, you can rate your opinion and see public results of Sen. Edward Kennedy's contribution to several policy areas. Take some time to submit your own results. Share them with your students. Use them as a basis of discussion for issues going on today in our country. Where do they stand?

This content has direct connections to the Arizona Academic Social Studies Standard in the Civic strand. Share how you have put American Experience to use in your classroom and the discussions in your classrooms about the legacy the Kennedys have left us with today.

Pay It Forward

I saw this opportunity today in eSchoolNews and had to pass it on. As I hear from teachers across Arizona I am always looking for ways to encourage them to consider writing a grant. This seems to be a perfect "starter" grant for a classroom teacher with a group of students who have a good idea but need some funds to get started.

I hope you will consider applying -- and I hope you will keep me posted if you do apply as I would love to help publicize how you and your students are paying it forward!

Pay It Forward Mini-Grants are designed to fund one-time-only service-oriented projects identified by youth as activities they would like to perform to benefit their school, neighborhood, or greater community. Projects must contain a "pay it forward" focus - that is, they must be based on the concept of one person doing a favor for others, who in turn do favors for others, with the results growing exponentially - to be considered in the grant making process.

Learn more:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Connecting Your Students...

"We know we aren't going to change minds entirely, but we want minds to be changed a little bit," said Stephen Brown, a contractor who manages and produces all the films created by the foundation.

"That's why we say in our introduction to this [project] that we want to ‘nudge' the conversation a little bit. And, if that's all we do, then I think we've actually accomplished what we want to accomplish. Because there are a lot of people on the fence. Just a little nudge could push them over."

Read more... Think about how you are involved... What are you doing to contribute to your 21st Century learners?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mark Your Calendars! PBS Teachers Webinars are Coming!

FREE Professional Development Opportunity --- from the comfort of any internet connected computer... including one at home while you eat dinner and help kids with homework - depending on your multitasking ability :).

The new fall line up of PBS Teachers LIVE! webinars is now available. The fall PBS Teachers LIVE! webinar series kicks off with "Transforming Schools: P.O.V.'s 'The Principal Story'" on September 1 at 5 p.m. Arizona (8 p.m. EST). Topics covered in the fall/winter schedule of webinars include elementary and middle level science, geography, social studies, digital storytelling, education in the digital age, and online professional development.

  • Sept 1: Transforming Schools: P.O.V.'s "The Principal Story"

  • Sept. 21: Dig into Early Science Instruction With “Dinosaur Train”

  • Oct. 7: Teaching About Place With Ken Burns' "The National Parks: America's Best Idea"

  • Oct. 22: Welcome to the new PBS Teachers site

  • Nov. 10: Education in the Digital Age: FRONTLINE's "Digital Nation"

  • Dec. 10: PBS TeacherLine: Online Professional Development for Educators

  • Jan. 26 (2010): Middle Level STEM Education With "Design Squad," "Fetch," and DragonflyTV"

All participants who are online for the entire webinar and complete the feedback survey at the end will receive a certificate for professional development hours.

For more information visit:

Friday, August 14, 2009

ASSET found Facebook!

Join us!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Speak Up!

This summer we witnessed young Iranians protesting and standing up for what they believe in, something I haven't seen since I graduated from high school in 1989 when young Chinese citizens protested their government. This summer I also participated in several gatherings at our state capitol, and spoke with my legislature about educational spending. How often though do we give students the opportunity to Speak up about what they are passionate about? Using the PBS web site students have the opportunity to read what other students think and believe, post their own ideas, and vote on ideas. Wouldn't be interesting to have students conduct research on how recess benefits them(or what they choose to write about), blog about their findings, respond to comments on their blog, and present their ideas in a multi-media presentation? I think it would allow students opportunity to express themselves in an authentic writing and presentation experience, and of course using the technology they love! I'm doing it this year, and very excited about what ideas they'll come up with. Watch the video and read the entries already on Speak Up. You might be surprised about what our young kids think about.

Monday, July 27, 2009

a presentation to make you think!

a friend of mine sent me an email with a link in it to this presentation... that friend of mine is always pushing the limits of Innovation! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Early Childhood- Sid, the Science Kid

How many of you have taken a look at Sid, the Science Kid? It is located in Early Childhood and it has 5 programs per week that cover 7 areas of Science. This is such a treasure, when materials are expensive and hard to find for the primary grades. It is so easy to use the programs, interactive sites and lesson plans because it is all in one place. Better yet, parents can have access to these resources as well. The activities and videos are great ways to learn the concepts. I think even some of my fifth graders would like the way the concepts are presented. What a wonderful way to supplement your already developed lessons! Take a look and decide for yourself.

Tech4Learning- An Awesome ASSET Partner

This year as part of the ASSET Innovator incentives, I got to learn more about Tech4Learning. We even received free software from the company. I chose Frames and actually got a private lesson from Carolyn Daly- a rep from the company- when she was in Tucson. I shared this software with a third grade teacher in the Marana School District and was amazed first by the software and then by what could be achieved using this software.

The third grade was working on biographies of famous people. The students read the biography and created a 5 minute speech about the person. They spoke and dressed up as if they were the person. The school put on a Wax Museum where all of the students stood and people could go around and push their paper button in order for them to tell who they were and what they did. That part was awesome all by itself, but then we continued this by using Frames. Every child was photographed twice on a blue screen. That was an adventure all by itself since there were 130 students. Then we had every student record their speech in Frames. The last step was done by teachers since we only had 4 copies of this program. The blue screen was replaced with back drops of landmarks associated with the famous person and movement was placed in the program. When finished, a small flash movie was created with movement and sound. Every child received a disk with their own presentation on it. Since then that school has bought enough copies of this software to use in the lab. We are hoping to have the kids create their own movies next year.

I was so glad that I was a part of this and I realize it probably never would have happened if I hadn't had that introduction through the ASSET Innovator Program. This is just one small part of what can happen through ASSET. There are so many more learning possibilities out there.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What a Great Time to be an ASSET Innovator!

This past year has been a difficult time with the economy. No money for anything extra, teachers laid off until the budget was decided on, teachers in flux, not knowing if they had a job or if they did where they might end up in the district. With all of this uncertainty, teachers were supposed to stay upbeat and continue giving a good education to their students. I would walk into teachers' meetings and not be sure what I would find, but every time I did, I was amazed at how they were looking for ways to work with their students and open to new ideas. I felt like I was throwing out a fantastic educational lifeline that had little or no cost attached. Their enthusiasm was contagious to all present and before I knew it, teachers were looking at the resources available and sharing ideas on how they could use it with their students.

ASSET allowed me to share so many fantastic resources. Many people thought ASSET was no longer around. It was my privilege to share the fact that ASSET was still around and had many outstanding programs that cover all of the grades and subjects. Once they checked out how easy it was to access the ASSET site and saw the wide choice of programs, they were sold. Whenever I got an update of PBS programs, I sent it out to the teachers. Many times I would get comments back about ideas they tried out and programs they used with their students. I would forward these ideas to other teachers, hoping they would also try something new and then pass on their insights. I would also have teachers asking me if there was anything available for a certain age group or a specific topic. I would research it and before too long, I was always able to find something that was on the ASSET site that would work. Were they ever excited when they got that e-mail! Teachers are so busy and time is so limited that I was glad to do the looking and then sharing it with them.

It was an honor to be an innovator this year because I felt like I had this awesome product, available to everyone and all I had to do was get the word out. My only regret is that I didn't get to all of the schools, but I belong to a district technology group and there were reps from all of the elementary and middle schools. I regularly shared with this group (we meet monthly) and these members went back to their schools and passed the ideas on. I plan on continuing to spread the word next year and take more advantage of the free face to face classes that are available. The more we get the word out, the more this resource will spread like wildfire and we will be able to continue that spark of integrating technology into the curriculum.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So who has tried Eko World on Can you share your experience with me, let me know how your kids or students reacted to it? My fourth graders love it. What I enjoyed the most was seeing them go on the website, even when they weren't told to!
Stacy :-)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards - Workshops - and PBS - Oh My!

PBS KIDS ( has launched a collection of interactive SMART Board games for educators. The site offers games for Language Arts, Maths, Social Science and a painting game for Art. Students will enjoy participating in these collaborative, fun and engaging experiences, while exploring curriculum from trusted PBS programs such as Curious George, Super Why and Arthur. Visit for more information.

The ASSET Professional Development Team would love an opportunity to come to your school or district back-to-school trainings and share these research based resources with you and your colleagues! Have you called or emailed to schedule your workshop? 602-496-1104/ Workshops can be customized to highlight specific content areas and grade levels. Look for more information about our workshops on our website.

Monday, July 13, 2009


The WordGirl Summer Road Trip airs July 13-17 on PBS KIDS GO! and Eight-AZ PBS.

Check local listings for air times on and view episode segments live online at ASSET Kids!

The WordGirl Summer Road Trip features:
  • “Robo-Camping”

  • “Who Wants Candy?”

  • “Theme Park Wham-Page”

  • and “Highway to Havarti”

While you are watching, don’t forget to pack these activities for your trip!

Click on the link from WordGirl's Announcement to get to these activities!

There are ASSET lesson plans tied to the Arizona Academic Standards to help you make the most of WordGirl in your classroom.

Consider these activities and online resources for your back-to-school planning AND become an ASSET Educator to take advantage of great discounts for your end of summer classroom purchases. Join during the week of WordGirl’s Summer Roadtrip and receive a special WordGirl luggage tag!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Innovative Asset Educator

I love the title of this post, Innovative Asset Educator. I think I want this to be my new title, it sounds so more significant than say teacher. Now before steam starts coming out of your ears, I'm not degrading teachers at all---I'm tryig to lift us up. I'm on a mission, a mission to get us the respect we deserve and bring professionalism back into teaching, that is the professionalism teachers didn't take out. So let's break down this title.

Innovative-one who changes or introduces something new. I'm going on my 9th year as a teacher, and never has one year been the same as the other. My available materials have grown, my knowledge has expanded, and I've learned from my mistakes. Next year I want to go virtually paperless, not sure how I'm going to do it. It will absolutely be a process that may take a few years to master. If we want to educate 21st century innovators we must be innovative with technology.

Asset-A useful or desireable thing or quality. Well I know my students enjoy being in my class, and I hope to provide a quality education. How do you measure that? What is the success rate? We grade schools based on AIMS test. We judge students on how well they can complete a worksheet. So, how do we really know we are an asset. This past year I had a reluctant and trouble making student. I won't go into details, but by year end her parents (and her) made it a point to let me know what a difference I made in their daughters life. That is being an asset. Unfortunately, these things aren't published in newspapers, web pages, or used as criteria to evaluate any educational system.

Educator-One who teachers. Not one who dissiminates information, not one who does the same thing as the previous year. My mother did that when she taught in the 1960's. She wrote lesson plans in year 1 and used the same plans for six years. In the 1960's it worked, we are 40 years away from those days. An educator must incorporate ever changing technology, if we don't we are literally robbing our students futures. We are in a learning, unlearning, and relearning stage of society. Think about the telephone in the 1970's, 1980's, and now (hint: rotary, touch tone, and cell). You learned, unlearned, and relearned at least 3 times on how to use a phone.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a Classroom Innovator. I enjoyed working on a project for GO PBS Kids, which changed me. Innovating! I enjoyed sharing and learning knowledge through the net, in person, and phone conferences. Asset. I enjoyed being engaged with the wonderful staff at ASSET.

So the biggest gift as a classroom innovator? My new title. Next time someone says, "what do you do for a living?" My response will be, "I'm an Innovative Asset Educator." Are you willing to be bold with me, and change your title?

Monday, June 15, 2009

What'll We Do... Museum or Zoo?

For those of you who came to the ASSET Educator Summer Institute 2009 a few days ago, you received your very own copy of the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture (MPAC) publication, What'll We Do... Museum or Zoo?. Did you know there are valuable coupons and passes in the back of that book that expire this summer? Take the little ones or big ones in your life on a tour! Enjoy the activities in the book before and after your trip. And... redo the activities online from Eight's own Generation Eight!

Then I connected a few other dots to this resource when I opened my email this morning from WNET's Colorin' Colorado to find an online effort from a PBS affiliate to support this same idea!

There are so many incredible things to do right in our own backyard in Arizona. A "Staycation" has never been more fun!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Want to be one of the First Middle School Science Teachers to Try Out Design Squad Curriculum Materials in Your Classroom?

The producers of the PBS TV show Design Squad ( are conducting a field test of the Design Squad curriculum in eight middle school classrooms during the upcoming academic year (2009-2010). Classrooms that participate in the study will receive the Design Squad Teacher's Guide and accompanying videos.

Classrooms that can commit at least six class periods to the curriculum (activities from two units) are preferred. The Design Squad curriculum is focused on physical science and includes three units: Electricity or Air Pressure; Sound; and Buoyancy and Newton's Laws.

In most cases, these units are taught during different times of the year at each school. This study design is flexible enough so that you'll be able to easily integrate Design Squad into your existing curriculum.

If you have any questions or you would like to see if you qualify for the study, please contact Chris Bransfield at

NOTE: This update came directly from PBS Teachers! Are you on their email mailing list?

Friday, May 8, 2009


This is a sneak peek of one of the resources that will be shared at the ASSET Educator Summer Institute June 6. Ken Burns' The National Parks: America's Best Idea will be a highlight session - sharing soon to be on-air programming from National PBS on Eight and online resources for use in the classroom!

Track your summer travels and explore virtually all the places you could go. Map out your own personal history across the United States from the parks you have visited as a child and as an adult. Consider where to plan your next vacation. Be impressed with how much Arizona itself has to offer! I challenge you to get the gadget and play with it yourself. Plot your history with America's National Parks!

Monday, May 4, 2009

We Appreciate You

If you subscribe to WETA's Reading Rockets eNewsletters - then you already received this... you don't... then this is for you!

This is the one time of year - separate from Christmas and last day of school - when we ALL get to really celebrate how much we appreciate teachers. Not those of us who have children in the classroom, but also those of us who work with teachers, and really anyone who wants to thank a teacher who made a difference in their lives.

Recently I have had the opportunity to reconnect with some of my former yearbook staff members through Facebook. Thankfully they were kind enough to accept my friendship offer - or pass my name along to others who they knew I would know. This couldn't be more rewarding! It is a feeling of satisfaction and pride I read through their profiles and find some have become teachers, some have become doctors, some are pursuing additional higher education. They remember my oldest two children from when they were toddlers and get to see where I am at now in education and my work with Eight and ASSET. I am as full of gratitude for them having been my students and teaching me many things about life and fun and writing as I hope they are to have had me as a teacher.

Never under estimate the power and influence you have in a young person's life... whether that person is 3 and exploring all there is about the world and books and messy crafts or whether you are helping that struggling child in 2nd grade really learn how to read despite a learning disability. Even those scary middle school kids come home from school excited about the latest science experiment they did making crystals (yes, my son at 13) and the high school students quietly admit how much they appreciate your help studying for a test (noted by Millenium High School teacher, husband). You are facing very difficult times in education in our state, and yet you are continuing to be just as valuable in the eyes of each of those students you work with, and their parents who count on you in the trenches every day.

Thank you! We appreciate you!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thinking Upstream!

ASSET-Eight launched its new member services area this past week - on Friday actually - and is excited to announce registration is NOW OPEN for the ASSET Educator Summer Institute "Think Upstream!" You will need to contact us - - if you have yet to acquire your member only services access login information. But make SURE you join us for this exciting professional development event in downtown Phoenix in June!

Registration is complimentary with your membership - so if you are ALREADY an ASSET Educator - just take the time to register on the roster and you are all set. The theme for the event couldn't be more timely - thinking out of the box, thinking beyond what is possible, empowering yourself as a classroom educator to be an element of change in your school, your district, and your career. Things are so hard right now in Arizona for education - and yet through difficult times come exciting new change and growth. Join us for an inspiring day with Austin Vickers, Lisa Henson and some fantastic sessions focused on problem-based learning and digital storytelling, STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math), and of course, early childhood. There really is something for everyone built into this special 1 day event.

Log in to the new member services area to find out where we got our inspiration - yes it came straight from the heart of PBS... to Be More EMPOWERED!

Contact us for any and all help - / 602-496-1104 - we look forward to celebrating the day with you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

AIMS workout... a stretch break from PBS!

Take a stretch! I had the pleasure of helping a group of teachers who attended a workshop do this. I double dog dare you to have you and your students enjoy this stretch break during AIMS testing this week! Come on... you KNOW you want to. In fact... anyone brave enough to post a comment back and share they were brave enough to try this with their students - of any age.

CLICK HERE to work out with GROVER!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Barnes & Noble Teacher Appreciation Event

Barnes & Noble in Chandler is putting together another teacher appreciation evening on April 23, 2009. They are looking for someone who would be willing to do a presentation to teachers on grant writing. They have also asked me to provide information on ASSET/PBS resources. This would be a good way to reach teachers from a variety of districts, so I am looking forward to putting together a presentation for them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Summer Institute 2009 Plans

We met this morning at ASSET to continue our work on plans for the ASSET Educator Summer Institute 2009 "Think Upstream." I am getting so excited! It is so important you become an ASSET Educator - join as an individual teacher member, so you can reserve your spot at the conference! For $60 membership, you not only get all the great Eight member benefits, but you also get additional educator-only benefits and FREE conference registration!

The featured speakers are set. Austin Vickers will be our morning speaker. He is the author of Stepping Up: to a Life of Vision, Passion and Authentic Power and will focus his talk on Business & Industry Leadership Strategy for Educators. He has worked with corporations like 3M and Intel. We are very excited about the renewed energy and new vision he can bring to Arizona classroom teachers.

"Great teachers can guide us in this process by providing us with enlightened principles and solutions for dealing with the frailties of the human mind and experience. On rare occasions, when inspiration, creativity and purpose conspire, certain teachings told in just the right way can alter our lives forever. They do so when they provide us with an association to wisdom, passion and courage, and help us create our own paths for achieving the same." ~ Austin Vickers

The lunch speaker will be Lisa Henson. Lisa is the daughter of Jim Henson and one of the imaginations behind the new addition to PBS children's programs from KCET and The Jim Henson Company, Sid the Science Kid! Her talk will focus not only on science for preschoolers but also the efforts behind the production and the proprietary Henson Digital Puppetry that goes into the show creation. Institute participants will also have a special visit from Sid the Science Kid himself!

The session strands are designed to have a little of something for any kind of educator. The Project Based Learning strand will include Digital Storytelling, highlights from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism High School Stardust Program, highlights of educational resources from PBS from programs like "We Shall Remain," and hands on workshops with software from Tech4Learning.

The STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) strand will include highlights from WGBH's Teachers Domain, WNET's Nature, and KCET's Sid the Science Kid, as well as Arizona State University's School of Sustainability, Adaptive Curriculum, and the Challenger Center of Arizona's mobile science explorer van.

The Early Childhood strand will also feature KCET’s Sid the Science Kid as well as A Place of Our own. Presentations will include PBS Kids Raising Readers—and PBS Kids Island and ASSET/Eight’s Kindergartener In Progress (KIP) online interactive environment.

All the exhibitors will be non-profits who have resources to offer educators, in addition to those for-profit businesses who are ASSET Education Partners. A special wine and cheese reception will be held the evening before, June 5, 2009, hosted by the Challenger Center of Arizona.

So... how can you make sure you reserve your seat at this incredible day? Join ASSET! Become a member and your conference registration is automatically included free of charge! Summer is right around the corner! Professional development certificates will be issued for this day, breakfast and lunch are complimentary, you can have your picture taken with Sid the Science Kid... really... how can you say no?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome Spring!

I was extremely excited to open Google today and find:

Hats off to Google for highlighting children's authors! I was encouraged to click the logo and find the search results that include a news article about the celebration of the first day of Spring (that happened at 7:44 am today, btw - by the way).

Upon further exploring, I found a wonderful animation of this all time favorite book of mine from my childhood:

Like most authors today, Eric Carle has a wonderful website I would encourage anyone and everyone to explore. He even blogs!

Ok... so this is a PBS local affiliate education blog though... what does it have to all do with PBS? Wellllll I went on over to PBS Teachers Connect, logged in, and did a keyword search in the upper right hand corner for "Eric Carle" and look what I found!

WETA's Reading Rockets is a fantastic resource-rich website that Mary Ann Dillon has shared before on our blog - but you may not know it is a wealth of author links and interviews and resources as well as teaching tool! I hope you will take some time to explore as I did, and remember these as wonderful tools to weave into your rich curriculum.

Happy Spring! Feed that Hungry Caterpillar! Thank you Eric Carle!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Win a $2,000 Production Grant!

How is global climate change affecting your community?

The WGBH Lab and Teachers' Domain want to hear from YOU and YOUR STUDENTS! Send your story ideas and you could be selected to win a $2,000 production grant! Check out for more info.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Green Valentines?

I was sifting through my email junk today and found a gem! A welcome diversion that I wanted to share with you all! Have you ever heard of "The Sustainable Sun Devil"?

"The Sustainable Sun Devil" is created for ASU by, the nation's leading online source of environmental news. Together with ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability, we will be bringing you sustainability updates from around your campus, your country, and your world.

Something timely in the content caught my eye - "how to be a greener Valentine." I clicked play. What did I have to lose? As I watched, as I hope you will in a few seconds, I thought about all the cool teachable moments embedded within - from discussions with kids about the impact of these valentines traditions on our climate to the ways we could make better use of our classroom time and energy spent on valentines. Why not think up some new spins on time-honors classroom traditions?

AND then, being the good PBS affiliate programming advocate that I am... I jumped to PBS Teachers. I did a quick search in the upper right hand corner for the key word "valentine" and look what I found! Frontline aired a story a year ago - Ecuador: Flower Power - Fair trade roses for Valentine's Day. Make sure to click on the EDUCATOR button on the menu bar toward the right. Aren't these great discussions and timely readings to share with students? Not only do they align with Science Standards but also Social Studies Standards. Explore the related links, stream the 10 minute video. Think about the flat world we live in and how this issue effects us globally, and locally.

Finally, make it really hit home and consider joining Generation Eight for the Generation Eight Goes Green Event - just one week after Valentines! Keep that love going long past the 14th - for the valentines in your life, and the environment that we live in!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't Miss Out on "Raising Readers"

The following local courses start March 11, 2009:
Raising Readers: Preparing Preschoolers for Success (RDLA051.54)15 Hours Grades PreK-KCourse Fee for ASSET Educator Members: $45 This course focuses on preparing preschoolers for success by developing their early literacy skills. The theories and strategies presented are based on the latest early literacy research from Susan B. Neuman and Kathleen Roskos (2007). You'll learn to use this research as you plan meaningful early literacy-learning experiences. These activities build on preschoolers' prior knowledge, expand their vocabulary, and strengthen oral language development - providing them with the foundation for reading, writing, and future academic success. The course provides video examples, online interactives, and activities from PBS, and engages you and your colleagues in a collaborative learning experience.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A New Spin On A Favorite Song... or two... or more

Sesame Street has long been on the cutting edge for children's television. Weren't they really the first when it comes to educational television? They are well researched and continue to be the longest running children's series. They also seem to have continued their cutting edge trends. You can find other famous people you enjoy teaching standards-required content to our littlest people on their site.

One thing Sesame Street is doing that we didn't have a chance to showcase in the ASSET Stakeholder Meeting Friday were the podcasts they are producing now. Take a moment to explore how you can subscribe to the RSS feed or download these free through iTunes!

Word on the Street

These podcasts are just one way we as adults can turn any time in to learning time with the children we love in our lives. It is a great way to engage our digital natives and put great learning content into their hands using the fun technology tools they love.

I'll leave you with "Don't Know Why" by Nora Jones, enjoying a moment with Elmo. Please remember to contact the ASSET Professional Development Team for workshops on these kinds of resources and embedding them in classrooms and in-home care. We would love a chance to work with you (anywhere throughout the state!).

Saturday, February 7, 2009

ASSET8 Stakeholders Meeting 2/6/09

I wanted to thank the wonderful people at ASSET for an enjoyable and informative stakeholders meeting. I picked up new resources that I was able to forward to numerous colleagues that afternoon, and learned surprising new things about resources to which I'd already been introduced. The entire day--from my first ride on the light rail to ASSET's excellent lunch and studio tour--was a terrific experience. Thanks so much for your hard work on behalf of our students!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two Awesome Web Sites

I just recently discovered these two gems and wanted to share them with you. The first is a web site that allows you to develop mind maps is you will using a web based program. This site is The tag line is to think creatively. You can also collaborate with others.

The second web site is On this site you can upload a document that will format it like a magazine, you can save the doc as a PDF. You can email the document out and it looks like a real magazine.

Both sites require registration but there is no fees associated with them.

Enjoy, James.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Technology and Teaching

I've been teaching for nine years now, and always amazes me the rapid changes in technology and how that technology impacts our daily lives. The best comparison I have is my mother. She began teaching third grade in 1966. When I began my teaching career she gave me boxes of 3 ring binders, 36 of them to be exact. Each binder represented a week in school. There was the lesson plan, the things to be copied, and notes on future plans. Wow, have we come a long way!

In today's ever changing world we can't develop a curriculum and successfully use it for 25 years. We won't be successful, and our students won't be prepared. I love that I can get on the Internet and within an hour find numerous lesson plans that I often adjust to meet my student needs. Think about how much planning time is eliminated with the use of technolgoy.

In my classroom I have 4 student computers, my computer, a projector, and full Internet access. It is awesome to see my student's eyes light up when we go to Google Earth to see what modern day Rome looks like when we are discussing Ancient Rome. Or, when I dispaly a copy of our social studies book on the projector meeting different needs. Using Powerpoint to share information, or stream video to engage them in a real conversation. My new favorite tool is I-Tunes. When working on individual task I can softly play in the background music that is related to our curriculum, maybe an Italian opera.

We are in the beginning stages of blogging. We use On this site students set up their own blog page, enter responses for the assignment which are emailed to me. They are not posted until I approve them from my email. May sound like a lot, but I would prefer to read emails in the evening than grade a stack of papers.

We have to be careful though. In my opinion nothing replaces a good novel in print form or a child's piece of art work hanging on the wall. Being a Classroom Innovator has helped me understand with even more depth the importance of technology, but also the importance of balancing technology and traditional resources.